Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Are You An Inspired Educator?

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Encarta® World English Dictionary[North American Edition] © & (P) 2009 Microsoft Corporation.All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.











 

One of the more common descriptions of effective educators is that they inspire their students.  Based on the definition above, an educator who inspires her students is certainly going to be effective.  The challenge, though, is that you rarely know how inspirational you are 

Are you an inspirational educator?  You are if your students are acting inspired.  Let's examine what it looks like to teach inspired students.

The inspired student "makes art."  In other words, she engages in the learning process in a manner that creates something new and makes a difference.  This creation and resulting difference need not be on a global scale; it could simply transform that class, that lesson, that discussion.  Educators are inspiring "art" when a student suggests a new solution to a problem.  While this solution may not be new to the teacher, it very well may be new to the other students.  Having given "birth" to this new idea and shared it with the class, the student has thus added to the collective wisdom of the group - she has created knowledge!

How much this idea makes a impact on the lesson may determine its brilliance.  Some ideas are valuable in that they serve to simply clarify older ideas.  Some ideas are off target.  Off target ideas still have value.  Other may have been thinking the same way and by bringing them to the surface, everyone can now "scratch them off the list."  Brilliant ideas are usually synthesized from multiple ideas, sources, or observations.  These are the "light bulb" moments - the "ah-has!" that emerge from the inspired student's intellectual warehouse.  Inspirational educators help unlock and open the door to this storage locker.

As a force that opens students' minds and guides them to uncover and share new ideas that have an impact on the class, the inspirational educator acts as the students' muse.  The inspired student operates in a state of heightened awareness and thoughtful reflection.  When students are free to think about, create, and share ideas they are in a state of intellectual stimulation that is far beyond the realm of "drill and kill" learning and testing.  

Now that you have explored the idea of an inspired student, you need to ask:

Can educators inspire students if they themselves are not inspired?  In other words, can we expect educators to inspire students if the educators themselves are lacking inspiration?

Reflecting on how inspired you are involves the same criteria.  While specifics may vary, in general inspired teachers are:
  • are creative problem solvers.
  • share their talents with the world.
  • are aware of and draw ideas from their colleagues, environment, and students.
  • try new methods, means, and ideas.
  • are not afraid to fail because failure is an opportunity to grow and learn.
  • appreciate and use design, symphony, and flow in their classes.
  • are liberated by the freedom that comes with doing work they were born to do - work that changes lives (the opposite being oppressed by work that is solely for the benefit of oneself).
In the end, the inspired educator is obvious.  They are public with their craft and willingly share it with the world.
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